Monday, December 20, 2010

The "Whys and Wherefores" of the Next Two Weeks

On December 28, I will be losing the knee with which I was born - the one that performed with strength and stamina through my sporting days. It supported me as I ran, jogged, power walked, played tennis and racquetball, led cheers, practiced gymnastics, worked in my garden, and trudged through hills, forests, and streams trying to gain conservation easements to save pristine land and wildlife habitat. My legs, and thus my knees, are a part of my history. I'm sentimental about losing part of me.

The problem with joints is that they wear out. I'm not sure God expected us to live as long as we do these days, and our knees and hips are going kaput long before the rest of us. No one ever told me that I would end up a bent-over little old lady, unable to walk normally, if I ran for exercise. The delightful sense of freedom that comes with flying through the air on a beautiful day makes one feel invincible. Years later, when the rush is gone, the pain sets in as the knee joints start to deteriorate. There are many causes for the pain - I had them all - torn cartilage, frayed cartilage, no cartilage (my last set of x-rays showed bone on bone, just as severe as it gets), bone spurs, inflammation. You name it, I've had it - or have it. My knee should be preserved and shown to track teams as a warning for what lies ahead.

I'll go "bionic" on December 28. I've been trying to make my house as clutter-free as a pack rat can stand, but it has been an uphill battle. Charlie and I can hop around piles of unread books or magazines with ease. Who doesn't like to refer to a three-year-old Allure now and then? Those old Escada catalogs? They were like museum pieces. Gone! My to-read pile? Higher. All those eye shadows? Can't part with them; just got them out of harm's way. A metal walker, the one I might be using for a week or two after I get home, won't be as limber. It should be an interesting time when I first come home from the hospital. I am pretty sure I'll be going up and down the stairs on my butt. I did that after arthroscopic surgery - works like a charm.

I am tying to decide whether to give away all my gorgeous pencil skirts. This is how my knee will look soon after the surgery. Not pretty! I've seen knee replacement scars many years out, and they never fade into oblivion. I guess it will be dark pantyhose for me if I choose to wear a knee-length skirt again.

I enjoy success stories, like Liza Minnelli's. The legendary entertainer underwent a knee replacement earlier this year, but is now back working and delighted by how quickly she regained her strength and energy.

“I’m running around like a wild woman,” she said. “You know it’s quite traumatic, having a full knee replacement. But I’m back in dance class every day, plus I go to the trainer. The strength is getting really great, and I’m touring all over the place. My god, I’m everywhere!”

That's what I want! I want to run around everywhere, and while I may have to get the right knee done before I'm able to be my zippy old self. I used to be the fastest walker in any group; I'm determined.

Why am I telling you all this? With the competing demands of getting organized for Christmas, working (I have a "real job"), and getting everything ready (I've banked my blood, picked up my post-surgery prescriptions, seen more physicians and assistants than I can count), I will probably publish only one beauty post per day this week. Then, unless I can find the time to schedule some features to publish while I'm in the hospital, the blog may go unattended for three days. We'll see. I can't take my iPad to the hospital. It's a thief magnet. It might be interesting, though, to see what I'd write while on morphine.

I'll "see you" a lot this week - just not as frequently as I usually do. Just wanted you to know what's up. If for some reason you take off for the holidays without any access to Internet service, I hope you have a fabulous time. Please let us all know in the comments if you've got anything special planned. In the meantime, I am going to make sure to get some new catnip toys at the local pet supply store. Just another thing to do.

Photos by USAtoday,, and showbizspy


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for what you'll be going thru with the surgery and all the PT. I don't know if this will help at all, but I just had a disc replacement in November. I have a big ugly scar running in the middle of my neck, supposed to be in a crease, but kinda makes a crease of it's own, as if I needed that!!

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this obvious chink in my beauty armour, but you know, I embrace it. I am thankful that while we get these unfortunate injuries, there are ways now to fix them. I've been suffering with the injury for 30 years, and now it is fixed. And if my scar grosses anybody out, it's their problem. I'm just glad it could be fixed.

Scarves are in, but if I wear them, it's because I'm just trying to look cool, not trying to cover my jagged scar, (made worse cuz I misunderstood the dr and pulled out stitches and wasn't supposed to do that...well, then don't give me instructions when I'm on morphine). I really have to plans to adjust my wardrobe. I'm still going to wear what I like. I wish I had one of those nice little scars that will disappear but I screwed it up so what can you do...I earned it.

I'm not so generous with wrinkles, also earned, but I will try to erase them with everything I can get my hands on. I didn't anticipate these extra marks that come with age, but I am thankful that they improve my situation. I say all that to say to you: keep the pencil skirts!!! Be who you are because a knee doesn't change your beauty inside or out. I understand how you feel about losing a part of yourself but just remember that this scar is a symbol of you continuing to be who you are, but better.

Charlestongirl said...

What an inspiration you are, Polarbelle! You go, gal!

I'm glad you got that disk fixed - 30 years of pain is amazing, and too long. But you left me "in stitches" as I read your advice to doctors..."Don't give me instructions while I'm on morphine." Love it! I'll write down what they tell me.

You pulled out your stitches. Really? Didn't that hurt? Grimacing as she writes.

We'll see about those pencil skirts. Not sure I want to explain to everyone how my knee replacement went. I can think of better conversations. It's somewhat like the last few days. Everyone asks me, "Ready for Christmas?" What am I supposed to say? "Heck no - and I won't be either."

PT? They better be good, or I will do my own. The PT I had in my acute injury days was worthless. Hope they have better techniques. :)

Unknown said...

I hope that everything works well for you and you recover fully and quickly!

the Muse said...

Good Luck on your knee surgery! I'm a faithful reader but have a hard time stopping by to comment but your post touched home today since my mum recently had her knee replaced.

She's never been a sporty type to be honest but she's very active as all mom's are I guess and never sits down for a single minute as she's constantly buzzing around like a bee doing this that and the other thing.

When we got the news she had to have the surgery we were all very scared that it would slow her down and hinder her but...

she's right back where she was three months later and possibly even better!

Try not to worry about the scarring as her scar looks pretty brilliant to me considering that she had the surgery only a few short months ago. Yes, it is there but its a tender pink and quite easy to conceal if she chooses (not that my mum is a skirt type of gal but regardless it still looks better than I had imagined it would).

I guess I just want to wish you well! I know you'll do well particularly because you're already an active person! You'll hope right back I'm sure.

Good Luck!
Happy Holidays!

Laura said...

I'm sorry to hear that you're having surgery, but I hope all goes well. I know it will be a big scar, but I find that Mederma works pretty well, if you keep at it for quite a while. I agree with polarbelle -- don't give up any beloved clothes just because you have a scar. Wear tights with them. Have a nice Christmas holiday and be well.

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, friends. Muse, Bridget, Laura - you're the best. Friends like you keep me going - and make me BELIEVE that I'll be kicking back and dancing in no time (I actually miss dancing). :)

Muse, I aim to beat your Mom's land speed record. I will be one disappointed gal if I am not pain-free in a month. Or at least taking great pain meds so I don't notice the pain. LOL! I'm actually happy to hear such a success story. My own mother didn't do as well as yours. Thank you!

OK - y'all have convinced me. The pencil skirts stay.

Love you!

Jules said...

I'm sorry you have to go through sugery. :( but, as far as your scar is concerned, i saw own it! I look at scars as signs of where you've been in life...there is absolutely no reason to give away pencil skirts or anything else that may show the scar! Keep wearing them with pride and know you are beautiful inside and out!

P.S. Follow ALL your doctors orders after the surgery! :D

theMuse said...

love, you WILL be dancing!

My mum was pain free in a few days! No way you are going to be in pain for a month ;-D Seriously, if my mother can do it, you def can as she is not in the kind of shape you are in! She's still doing rehab twice a week and has a bit of a twitch here and there when it's really cold out but aside from that she is doing amazingly well and so will YOU!


I'm so sorry to hear about you mother! Was she older or younger when she got the surgery? My mother is in her 60's and thankfully it took very well for her!

Her doctor said she should try out orthopedic but we got a second opinion that said the full replacement would be best and I'm thankful we did because she's pain free and doing well ;-D

Keep us posted how you are doing! I look forward to your daily posts.


Eileen said...

Your post reminds me of a quote by Jonathan Swift: "Every man desires to live long; but no man would be old." I think that many of us would say amen to that. And because we go about the business of living life to the fullest, we feel somewhat betrayed when our body begins to remind us of all the wear and tear it has endured over the years. Replacing a knee, although serious, is a small price to pay for the wonderfully active life you've led and will continue to lead for many more years to come. So, here's another quote for you: "Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form." André Maurois. You're a busy lady with a positive outlook and an energy and resilience that will serve you well through this period of time. So, whatever you do, don't toss those pencil skirts! :-)  

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Muse,

Mom was older. She was probably late '70s when she had the first one done and early '80s for second. That's why I'm not waiting!

Thanks much! I figure that even if it's painful, it can't be as bad as it is today - or "after" has to be better than "before." Like a good makeover. :)

Love you!

Charlestongirl said...

Jules, Eileen,

I am so touched. I wrote the post so that y'all would understand why my posting is slowing down, but I am just so touched at your responses. Everyone's responses.

Jules, I am a horrible patient, but I will do what he tells me. I'm ready.

Eileen, love the quote. I don't feel old - except for my knees. I've been putting up a good front. One local reader called me awhile ago and said something akin to "Really?" Made me chuckle. I've been hiding the pain pretty well, I guess. Yep, I do feel betrayed by my body (and I'm blaming Mom - I got her genes). :)

Thank you all! My spirits are soaring tonight, thanks to you!

Liz said...

I hope your surgery and recovery are completely uneventful - and swift!

Leigh said...

All the best on the 28th - - and we're right about the skirts - - don't fret about a scar - - it'll be part of your character - - own it!

As an aside, I just get the biggest bang out of the "word verification" we have to use - -right now it's "litip" - - some of them would be great to name pets!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I too have a big 8-9 inch scar on my arm from a previous surgery. I believe it is key to take excellent care of your scar right from the start. It's obvious that one must keep it clean and free from infection but there is lots more one can do! Don't give away your pencil skirts just yet...your surgeon can provide you with silicone strips that help immensely with minimizing the appearance and texture of the scar. While the scar is still new and the stitches are gone you can use vitamin E oil to help with healing and texture as well. Then you can use Mederma treatment for scars. Bio Oil also helps. After the scar has healed completely there is always DermaBlend Makeup for scars. There is so much hope! Keep your skirts honey! :)

Arisa Lee said...

I'm a new reader and I'm sorry that you're going through this but consider yourself lucky because you can afford a surgery and you still have hope of getting your knee back again! Don't worry about that scar, you have a husband that loves you and everything will go well!

KathyT said...

Good luck with the surgery! I've heard very positive things from the people I know who have done it, and they all say that they wish they had done it sooner. I have terrible knees because I don't have cartilege in the knees, and my kneecaps slip out of place. It's all I've ever known. I now have profound arthritis, and my orthopedist is just waiting for me to say the word for my knee replacement surgery. I've had major surgery on one knee, and it's not easy afterwards, so be sure to have crutches or a cane nearby. I found that swinging my legs out of bed was the hardest thing so be prepared for that one. Don't give up those skirts! There are so many good products now to help with scars. I've had my scar for over 30 years, and it's just part of me now. Besides you are so lovely that everyone will be commenting on your fabulous lipstick and not the scar on your knee.

I hope that everything goes well, and be sure to take it easy. I hope that you get a good PT because it certainly makes all of that work easier if you have someone who inspires you. Maybe you will inspire me to finally get my knee replaced!

All the best,

Charlestongirl said...

Liz and Leigh, Arisa Lee and Kathy,

Thank you all!

Funny about the word verification. I don't have to do it, so I miss all that "fun"!

Anonymous, I bought a two-pack of Bio Oil at Costco last weekend - I was thinking the same thing. And I have plenty of Argan Oil - and Creme de la Mer. :)

Arisa Lee, I actually thought about the cost factor - one reason I'm having my surgery over the holidays. If I wait until 2011, my out-of-pocket max for hospital expenses goes up by $750. I was motivated to get it done this year by that! I would rather buy makeup.

Kathy, I will make sure to report on my recovery. It sounds like your knees are worse than mine! You have all inspired me; maybe I can do the same. I found crutches hard to use after my arthroscopic surgery. I much preferred the walker. I have canes from back then, but I didn't like them either. I know I will look like granny with a walker, but walkers are so easy to use!

Question, Kathy: Why is getting out of bed hard? Is it because you have to roll out, or because you have to lift your body up with one leg?

Frances said...

I wish you the best of luck with your surgery!
I had an ACL repair done when I was 17 (basketball injury) and I have the zipper scar. So I can sympathize.

jbrobeck said...

From one woman with two bad knees to another, I want to tell you how much I admire your postive attitude!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Brobeck!

We bad-kneed gals have to stick together - better than being "bad-as&%^#?"! :)

I found I learned to live with it until last winter's snow shoveling. That was the last straw. My knees have thrown off my gait, so now I have a bad back too. Time to fix! We'll see if I feel as positive when it comes time to do the second one.

Pam said...

I will be praying for you as you go through your surgery and recovery. Keep a journal. I bet you'll get a kick out of it (no pun intended) in months to come.
As far as a scar, girl, we all have them, inside and out, some bigger than others. Buy yourself a bottle of Bio Oil and begin using it as soon as the doctor okays. It will soften and smooth your incision in no time. Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year!!!

Goya said...

I hope, Charlestongirl, that the surgery will pass smoothly and you'll recover quickly!:)

Unknown said...

I truly wish you all the best and a very quick recovery! You are a great person and a talented blogger :) Just take it easy on yourself and enjoy some rest and quiet. I know scars are bothersome (i had quite a few surgeries of my own) but I would keep the skirts and forget about what others think, I had to learn that first hand. Take good care of yourself and remember that you have many good friends that wish you well!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Pam, Goya, and Anna!

Just got home from work and read your sweet comments. Thank you for the best wishes, prayers, advice to keep the skirts, and Bio Oil! Got it!

Happy Holidays to all of you - everyone! To lift a line from Charles Dickens...

And so, as Tiny Tim said, "A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!"

Anonymous said...

Sending you wishes for an easy surgery and a pain-free and speedy recovery.


Mary said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your bad knee. But I had a friend who had the same surgery this past summer in fact. He said it was the best thing he ever did. Just know my thoughts will be with you for a speedy recovery.

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Ammie and Mary!

I know that with all your positive energy coming my way, it's going to be a breeze!

MarciaF said...

Lots of luck with the surgery. I hope it's a piece of cake.

Lisa S. said...

You will be in my thoughts and prayers on the 28th. Just wish I lived closer so I could come by and check on you! You have such a positive outlook and great attitude, I'm sure it will speed up your recovery.

We all will miss your posts, but you take it easy and relax and recover from your surgery.

I started running at the age of 50 (2 years ago) and while I love it, I do worry about wear and tear on the old knees. I run 3 miles 4-5 times a week, love the mental health benefits! Here's hoping you are back on your feet soon and able to resume your active life.

Lisa S.

Unknown said...

Best wishes on your impending surgery. I had significant foot surgery earlier this year so many of your preparations are familiar ones. Keep the pencil skirts! Ask your surgeon or PT about using silicone pads to massage and break up scar tissue as you heal--it has worked wonders for me after a couple of surgeries that could have left disfiguring and painful scars.

Warmest thoughts for the holidays and all that lies ahead,

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Erin, Lisa, and Marcia!

Erin, I'm going to walk into that hospital with so many great scar healing ideas, the surgeon will wonder if I'm a research queen. Thank you!

Lisa, now I'm going to worry about you. Best advice I can give you is to make sure to wear shoes that provide proper cushioning for your joints - and then some. As much as I loved running, I wouldn't do it again, knowing what I do now. It's so great for your body when you run, it's hard to believe it can be destructive later.

Thanks, Marcia. Your reference to a "piece of cake" gave me a vision of asking a friend to bring chocolate cake and a beer to my hospital room. I think that's a great combination. My father used to joke about how weird it was that his mother loved beer and chocolate (or ice cream); he didn't realize it was genetic.

KathyT said...


The problem with getting out of bed for me was taking my leg from the top of the bed down to the floor without the usual support from my knee. Does that make sense? I couldn't flex my knee, so all of the stress was on my knee as I stood up, and it was very painful. In the dark ages when I had my surgery, I had a hard plaster cast from my thigh to my ankle which was very unwieldy. I'm not sure what they do now, but I would make sure that you support the back of your knee whenever you have to swing your leg through space like getting into and out of bed. I hope it makes sense!

Good luck with everything.

Cindy said...

You're gonna do great! My uncle had replacement surgery done on both knees about 10 years ago. Before the surgery he could barely get around without help, and now he goes for walks around the neighborhood. As for the scars, he used cocoa butter (stick version) twice a day. They didn't completely go away, but it definitely lightened them.

Good luck on the 28th! I wish you well and hope you have a quick recovery. :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Kathy, that made perfect sense - thanks! I'll practice getting up while I'm in the hospital. :) Thank you.

Cindy, my thanks to you too! I have so many scar remedies, I'll have to rotate them. :) Maybe I can minimizes it to the extent it's not an attention grabber.

Thanks to you both - and everyone - for such positive messages!

Gaby said...

I hope everything goes well with your surgery. I am a PT and have seen countless patients after total knees. Though the rehab is never fun, it is worth it in the end. You will get to do all you love again and without the pain !! I have also seen some pretty amazing scars and though the line will be visible, some are minimal. If you need any help/advice, please let me know. I worked with one of the top knee replacement doctors when I lived in South Florida. Best of Luck and remenber ice is your friend ;)

Charlestongirl said...

That is so cool, Gabriela! I didn't think I knew any PTs. :)

Thanks for the offer of advice. I will probably e-mail you. I am willing to work as hard as I have to work to get strong. I just don't want to stay in the hospital - away from Charlie.

Win said...

you'll be in my thoughts!!! best wishes for you! :) merry christmas charlestongirl

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Winyan! Merry Christmas to you too! Hope you have a fab weekend - and a safe, healthy, and happy new year.

Unknown said...

Charlestongirl, Read your tweets and posts here this evening. Sounds like surgery is the best thing - fingers crossed that snow doesn't doesn't require you to reschedule. And I'm glad you are keeping those skirts!

Sandra said...

Wishing you all the best!
You are a true inspiration!


Charlestongirl said...

Hi Ava and Sandra,

It's Monday morning, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting a little nervous. The howling winds don't help. There's something about wind that's unsettling. Thanks for those best wishes!

Make sure to enter the Armani giveaway I'll be posting tonight. :)

Anonymous said...

We'll all be waiting for you - thinking of you, and knowing you are doing what you have to do.

It's like the thoughts I had the night before my brain operation for a brain tumor removal. I kept pinching my scalp to imagine what a scalpel would feel like.

Experiences usually turn out better than we think they would. Just keep the faith - know you will endure to write another day, no matter with a scar or not. Just think of the creative answers you can give people if they ask about your scar -- astronaut training or sky diving or Zumba!!

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Anonymous! Wow, I hope the tumor surgery went well!!

I like the astronaut training. Good line!

Beauty Junkies Unite said...

I am sending you lots of love and healing wishes for a swift recovery!